The mushroom’s Japanese name shiitake is composed of ‘shii’, the name of the tree that provides the dead logs on which it is typically cultivated, and ‘take’ meaning ‘mushroom’.
Shitakes have much more flavor than white buttom mushrooms and are also highly nutritious. This combination makes them a wonderful main ingredient in a wide variety of recipes and a great meat substitute.
Selection and Storage
When purchasing mushrooms, select mushrooms that have firm, plump, unblemished and clean caps. The underside of the mushroom should be creamy white. Avoid mushrooms that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots.
Fresh Shitake Mushrooms will keep up to 14 days when they are stored in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag. They need to breathe so don’t store them in plastic!
The best way to clean them is to simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. The mushrooms are very porous and if they are exposed to too much water they will absorb it and become soggy. Don’t clean mushrooms until you are ready to use them.
The stems of Shiitake mushrooms are often tough. It’s best to remove them and set them aside…but don’t discard them! They are excellent for flavouring broths and soups.